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Beloved Comanions - Insights on Domestic Tranquility From the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Matos - Masei

Building Trust by Keeping Oneself Beyond Suspicion

The famous Rabbi Yechiel Danzig of Alexander was visiting a health spring resort with his son. When he found out that a grandson of one of the famous tzaddikim was also staying at the resort, he sent his son to this grandson to inquire when he could come to visit and pay his respects. The grandson replied that eight o'clock the next morning would be fine.

The next morning Rabbi Yechiel made a special effort to get up early so as not to be late for the appointment. When he and his son arrived at the grandson's room, they found that the grandson had left early, disregarding the appointment which had been set.

Rabbi Yechiel was not angry at being treated with such a lack of courtesy, but sent another messenger to set a new time when they could meet. This was done, but once again the grandson did not show up for the appointment. This happened several times, and each time the grandson would set a time and then not show up.

"How much longer are we going to put up with such despicable, arrogant behavior?" asked the enraged son of Rabbi Yechiel.

Rabbi Yechiel pacified his son by saying, "Listen, my son, our main job in life is to strive to be humble and forgiving. Now we have the opportunity to practice what we have been striving for. Will we not take advantage of such a perfect opportunity?" (K'tzes Ha-shemesh Bi-gvuraso, p.174)

While Rabbi Yechiel had great patience for the grandson, the grandson nonetheless erred by not explaining his absence so as to make sure he would be above suspicion. In marriage, also, we must always strive to be above suspicion.

"And you will be thus guiltless before the L-rd, and before Israel." Our Sages have taught: Beis Garmo (the family of Garmo) were experts in making the lechem hapanim (the showbreads placed weekly in the Temple), but they refused to train anyone else to make it. The Sages asked them, "What is the reason that you are not willing to train others?" They answered, "Our forefathers knew that in the future the Holy Temple would be destroyed. Perhaps an unrighteous person will learn our skills and use them to go and worship idols." Because of this, Beis Garmo never kept clean (well-sifted) bread at home, so that people would not be able to even suggest that the family ate from the lechem hapanim. They acted in this manner to fulfill what is written, "And you will be thus guiltless before the L-rd, and before Israel." Beis Avtinas (the family of Avtinas) were experts in making the ketores (spice mixture sacrificed daily in the Temple) and they did not want to train anyone else to make it. Because of this, Beis Avtinas is always mentioned with praise. Also, Beis Avtinas never allowed a bride to leave their houses wearing perfume, so that people would not suspect that they were using the ketores for their personal benefit. They acted in this manner in order to fulfill what is written "And you will be thus guiltless before the L-rd, and before Israel." (Yoma 38a, Yalkut 786, par. Vihyisem)

Why would it have been a disgrace if bread similar to the lechem hapanim would have been used for idol worship? Why would people suspect Beis Garmo of using the lechem hapanim for their own personal benefit? And what would have been wrong if a bride of Beis Avtinas had used perfume similar to the ketores?

It would have been a disgrace if the lechem hapanim had been used for idol worship, since by doing so, a person would be taking the beautiful service that was created for G-d alone, and profaning it. It would be bad enough for a person to worship idols, but to take the special beauty of the Holy Temple and use it for such a forbidden purpose would be considered a grave insult to G-d.

Since Beis Garmo had a tradition that one day the Temple would be destroyed, they knew this meant that the people in control of the country would be idol worshippers. Under such circumstances, someone with a weak character might try to find favor in the eyes of the ruling faction by showing them how to make the lechem hapanim. Therefore Beis Garmo kept the secret of how to make the lechem hapanim well-guarded, so that it would never be used for idolatry.

The Talmud however, considers the over-cautiousness of Beis Garmo and Beis Avtinas to have been wrong and disgraceful, since at one point they were not willing to make the lechem hapanim and the ketores in the Temple. Their fear of what might happen in the future was not considered reason enough to prevent the service in the Temple from taking place. If someone wants to do wrong and misuse Divine service for evil purposes, this does not justify that others should stop serving G-d.

On the other hand, Beis Garmo and Beis Avtinas were praised for being so careful not to cause any suspicion that they might be utilizing their knowledge for personal benefit. Beis Garmo sacrificed the pleasure of eating well-sifted bread, so that no one might suspect them of using the secret of making lechem hapanim in baking their own bread. Even though lechem hapanim looked much different from ordinary bread, they took extra precautions so that on one would have even the slightest suspicion that they were deriving any personal benefit from the lechem hapanim.

Beis Avtinas also made a great sacrifice to thwart any suspicion that they might be deriving personal benefit from the ketores. Even though a bride is ordinarily perfumed, their brides are not. This was not an easy sacrifice, since every woman wants what is customary for a bride, and feels greatly deprived when she does not have those things. But being above suspicion is worth such a sacrifice.

Keeping oneself above suspicion is considered an excellent trait, and this is explicitly discussed in the Torah in connection with Gad and bnei Reuven. Moshe warned them that if they were going to dwell on the other side of the Jordan river without participating in the wars in Israel, it would raise suspicion that they were evading their responsibility to help conquer the land. There fore he told them that only after coming with the rest of the nation to help conquer the land, could they return to inherit the east bank of the Jordan.

Always Tell Your Wife Where You Are Going

It is important to tell your wife always where you are going in order to build a successful marriage. When a husband does not explain where he has been, or where he is going, this arouses suspicion in his wife. Because she feels that she is a partner in all of her husband's activities, when she is left in the dark she is afraid that something might be wrong. Since she has so much love for her husband, she has the right always to know where he is going and what he is doing.

A person can make his wife happy by making a point of telling her always where he is going whenever he leaves the house. This demonstrates his respect for his wife, proves to her that he wants to keep her informed, and shows her that he has nothing to hide. You can convincingly show your love by informing your spouse of your actions. While this does not take much effort, the results can be very beneficial to building a strong marriage, one based on mutual trust and confidence.

When everything is shared in a marriage, the marriage will stand the test of time, weathering good times and bad.

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